Archive for the 'spoken word' Category

Various – Lovely Little Records

Various - Lovely Little Records box front cover
Various - Lovely Little Records box back cover
Various - Lovely Little Records box set
Various - Lovely Little Records, John Bishoff side B
Various - Lovely Little Records, Paul DeMarinis side B
Various - Lovely Little Records, Maggi Payne side A

Avantgarde music company Lovely Music, Ltd was founded by Robert Ashley’s wife Mimi Johnson in New York in 1978. Apart from Ashley’s magnum opus Perfect Lives in 1983, Lovely published Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Pauline Oliveros or Annea Lockwood, among others. Still active today after almost 35 years, Lovely is a major avantgarde music label.

Published in 1980, this box set of single records introduced new artists of the Lovely stable, in addition to early associate “Blue” Gene Tyranny, who already had 3 LPs out on Lovely in 1980. Some of these composers, but not all, will later release full-length LPs on Lovely, like Paul DeMarinis or Maggi Payne. Most composers here (e.g.: Bischoff, DeMarinis, Payne, Gene Tyranny) came from the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music, directed by Robert Ashley in the 1970s, hence the presence of the Golden Gate Bridge on the cover. In any case, as far as I can tell, these tracks are exclusive to this compilation and never appeared elsewhere.

♫ John Bischoff introduces some of his early, hacked computer sounds and DIY circuitry with legendary band The League of Automatic Music Composers, as well as a solo recording mixing car engine sounds and oscillators. Paul DeMarinis‘ two tracks weren’t included on his Music As A Second Language CD on Lovely in 1991. If God Were Alive… is for voice, tamboura and modified Speack’n’ Spell. A classicaly-trained flutist, event organizer and musical activist, Phil Harmonic, aka Kenneth Werner (1949–1992), contributes two tracks of sound collages from street recordings, radio broadcasts, rehearsals, found sounds or conversations. Frankie Mann was a Californian experimental radio producer in the late 1970s, running a show on Berkeley’s KPFA-FM, the radio where Charles Amirkhanian broadcasted his famous avantgarde music shows and interviews. Mann’s 2 tracks here are rather different, the first being a minimalist, new wave-ish song, the other an electroacoustic collage. After a pair of floating, out-of-this world electronic tracks by Maggi Payne, “Blue” Gene Tyranny delivers his portrait of San Francisco politician and gay activist Harvey Milk, based on demonstration recordings, political address and electronic sounds.

John Bischoff
01 Silhouette (6:05)
02 The League Of Automatic Music Composers, December 17, 1978 (8:52)
Paul DeMarinis
03 If God Were Alive (& He Is) You Could Reach Him By Telephone (7:28)
04 Forest Booties (10:56)
Phil Harmonic
05 Phil Harmonic’s Greatest Hits (7:52)
06 WPA/Composite Mix (9:18)
Frankie Mann
07 I Was A Hero From The Mayan Debutante Revue (9:31)
08 How To Be Very Very Popular (Excerpt) (8:59)
Maggi Payne
09 Lunar Desk Lunar Dusk (7:56)
10 Lunar Earthrise (Excerpt) (7:38)
“Blue” Gene Tyranny
11 Harvey Milk (Portrait) Part I – The Action (9:23)
12 Harvey Milk (Portrait) Part II – The Feeling (9:51)

Total time 1h43mn
Box-set with six 7-inch records issued by Lovely Music, NYC, 1980

Download (incl. 28pp PDF booklet)

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Various ‎– Trying To Make It To The End Of The Century

Various ‎– Trying To Make It To The End Of The Century LP front cover
Various ‎– Trying To Make It To The End Of The Century LP back cover
Various ‎– Trying To Make It To The End Of The Century LP lyrics
Various ‎– Trying To Make It To The End Of The Century LP cara A

G3G Records was founded in 1989 in Barcelona by 3 people including Raeo bass player Gat. They published many Pascal Comelade records as well as releases by Macromassa, Juan Crek, Victor Nubla or Raeo, and the famous Tarot 7 inch series. G3G’s first compilation, Trying To Make It To The End Of The Century, published in 1991, is a succession of spoken word tracks and rock songs or instrumentals. There’s a certain film noir mood throughout the album thanks to dark, urban rhythms and grim, almost risqué texts – or equivocados, as Emilio Cubeiro puts it in the opening track, a brilliant, homoerotic 8mn narrative by Spanish poet Cubeiro, with cinematographic music by Raeo, the trio of Antón Ignorant, Gat, and Mark Cunningham, whose delicate trumpet playing is also heard on several other tracks like a dotted line across the LP. Another pièce de résistance is Lydia Lunch’s intense, intimate confessions titled Last Gasp with Spanish musicians providing appropriate background.

01 Emilio Y Los CulpablesI’m Fucking Innocent (8:03)
02 Fist Of FactsOne I Want (4:29)
03 Claude BessyUntitled Moment (:13)
04 Josh LazieComin Home (9:45)
05 Pascal ComeladeDos Horas De Two Ojos I (1:11)
06 Lydia LunchLast Gasp (4:27)
07 ABT 409Hund (6:00)
08 Claude BessyLes Amis (:37)
09 RaeoThe Mummy Awakes (6:45)
10 Claude BessyYo No Soy Hemingway (:57)
11 Pascal ComeladeDos Horas De Two Ojos II (1:27)

Total time 44:00
LP released by G3G, Spain, 1991


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Marran Gosov – Vocoding Life/Psycho-Akustik

Vocoding Life/Psycho-Akustik LP front cover
Vocoding Life/Psycho-Akustik LP back cover
Vocoding Life/Psycho-Akustik LP side A

Better known under his artist name of Marran Gosov, Bulgarian Tzvetan Marangosoff was born in 1933 in Sofia to a Bulgarian father and a German mother. He relocated to Munich in 1960 and made all his career in Germany as a film director, actor, playwright, singer and film music composer. In 2008, a retrospective of his 5 full-length films and numerous short films was held in Filmclub 813 in Cologne (from German Wiki). In 1977 and 1978, Gosov self released two LPs of his rather idiosyncratic own songs, under the unifying theme of Diletanttische Lieder, or Dilettantish Songs, or Dabbler Songs (see official website). Titled Baby Mann, the first LP was an autobiographical homage to his mother through a cycle of intense, one of a kind songs in unique arrangements. The Steine Kitzeln LP followed in 1978 and then Vocoding Life/Psycho-Akustik appeared in 1980 on Kuckuck, the legendary electronic and avantgarde label from Munich (Deuter, Hans Otte, Eberhard Schoener, etc).

Above: one of the short films Gosov produced in 1977 based on his songs.
Several of these films were uploaded to Vimeo in 2011 (look here).

As opposed to his first acoustic LPs, Vocoding Life is dominated by synthesizer and Vocoder, as all vocals and guitars are channeled through the device. But while in Giorgio Moroder the Vocoder is used to create a pseudo-futuristic sheen over smooth girly vocals, in Vocoding Life the Vocoder creates a feeling of radical estrangement, or Verfremdungseffekt, ala Bertold Brecht, something even more exacerbated in the video above. These are mostly sentimental songs with weird arrangements on the verge of incredibly strange music. Due to the tone of the voice and the lyrics from previous LPs, I assume the German lyrics are either autobiographical or deal with very personal feelings and thoughts. It is even possible the entire project meditates on the state of Heimatlos and loneliness. Somewhere between spoken word and song, often semi-improvised over a basic written structure, these tracks form a coherent song cycle with extremely minimal arrangements sometimes reduced to voice and Vocoder only. Other tracks feature synth loops, rhythm from an electric organ or electric guitar, but voice and Vocoder remain prominent features.

Klar, unvollkommen bin ich. Wie kann ich anderen die Leviten singen. Auch ich bin ein von Zukunftserfahrungen gebranntes Kind, zurück-gefallen auf mich selbst und ahne schon die Gewißheit, daß am Ende nur jene Güte beweisen werden, die an nichts glauben.
[from liner notes]

01 Eifersucht (8:39)
02 Amore (3:15)
03 Lampenfieber (9:09)
04 Babymann (2:58)
05 Gitterbett (2:27)
06 Mütterlein (5:18)
07 Ferne Nähe (7:25)
08 Clown (5:02)
09 Kaltes Stück (5:11)

Total time 49:20
LP released by Kuckuck, Munich, West Germany, 1980


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Jacques Diennet – Mante

Jacques Diennet - Mante 2xLP front cover
Jacques Diennet - Mante 2xLP back cover
Jacques Diennet - Mante 2xLP inlay
Jacques Diennet - Mante 2xLP side C

Jacques DiennetFrench electronic music composer Jacques Diennet, born 1947, studied electroacoustic music in Marseilles with composer Marcel Fremiot and was director of the Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Marseille from 1973 to 1991. After 1977, Diennet stayed in the US on several occasions and studied with Robert Ashley at Mills College and with Jon Appleton at Dartmouth College, where he developed an interest in computer music and the Synclavier, of which Appleton was a co-creator and pioneer. Diennet’s work focuses on live electronic music and blending of electronic sounds and real instruments. He now composes mostly for stage and film, particularly for the n+n Corsino dance company and the Ubris Studio contemporary music ensemble.

♫ The double LP Mante was published by Hat Hut in 1987 and features two compositions based on poems by French poet and John Cage specialist Christian Tarting: Mante, published 1982 and Facile Pour Cécile, published 1986. The 5 movements of Mante, composed 1983, combine the poetry reading of French choreographer Martine Pisani with sparse electronic accompaniment,  occasional vocalizations by soprano Irène Jarsky, and cautious live instruments, usually one or two at a time only – there’s something fragile in this music which would be broken by collective improvisation. Musicians are seasonned improvisers familiar from other Hat Hut records, and their contributions are brilliant, especially Jean-Marc Montera’s beautiful electric guitar solo on #3, near 3:30. The 3 electronic tracks titled Παντά  ϱεἰ (Manta Rei) are based on a quote from Greek philosopher Heraclitus: τὰ πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει (Tà pánta rheî kaì oudèn ménei), or Everything flows, nothing stands still. According to this motto, the music evolves progressively and morphs upon itself constantly, while displaying the Synclavier II’s rich and powerful modulated frequencies. The delightful Facile Pour Cécile also features reader Martine Pisani, but this time the music is more atmospheric, creating a dream-like background to the poem, inside which Gérard Siracusa’s marimba arpeggios add insidious, hypnagogic traits.

01 Mante (Mantis) I (15:50)
02 Mante (Mantis) II (3:18)
03 Mante (Mantis) III (5:55)
04 Mante (Mantis) IV (1:50)
05 Mante (Mantis) V (10:52)

  • Irène Jarsky, voice
  • Martine Pisani, reader
  • Joe McPhee, cornet
  • André Jaume, bass clarinet
  • Jean-Marc Montera, guitar
  • Jacques Diennet, Synclavier II

06 Παντά  ϱεἰ I (11:11)
07 Παντά  ϱεἰ II (9:40)
08 Παντά  ϱεἰ III (4:47)

  • Jacques Diennet, Synclavier II

09 Facile Pour Cécile (Easy for Cécile) (15:44)

  • Martine Pisani, reader
  • Gérard Siracusa, marimba
  • Danièle Robert, piano
  • Jacques Diennet, Synclavier II

Total time 79:06
2xLP released by Hat Hut Records, Therwil, Switzerland, 1987


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John Cage – Art is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else

Art is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else cassette cover
Art is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else cassette side A

Recorded at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London, in 1989, during a collective exhibition of works by John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Jasper Johns titled Dancers on a Plane, this reading of Art is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else took place 2 years after the “official” version recorded by Hessischer Rundfunk radio in Germany on November 1st, 1987 – now issued on a Mode 2xCD set. The text is based on mesostics derived from Jasper Johns statements found by Cage in Mark Rosenthal’s book Jasper Johns: Work Since 1974, published by Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1988. The book was published during Johns’ exhibition at the Vennice 1988 Biennale. Note strange discrepancy in the date: Cage’s mesostics were apparently written 1 year before the book they’re supposed to be based on.

Naturally, these quotes were submitted to chance operation before being layed out on the page in the form of mesostics. In this exquisite cassette, Cage’s melodious and enveloping reading forms a verbal labyrinth in which the listener is guided by Cage’s frail and slightly hypnotic voice – at this time of his life, Cage suffered from arthritis, sciatica and arteriosclerosis, according to Wikipedia.

[Thanks to Goran for this one]

01 Art is Either a Complaint… (25:10)
02 Art is Either a Complaint… [continued] (23:03)

Total time 48:13
Cassette released by Audio Arts, London, UK, 1990


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Susan Sontag – Debriefing

Susan Sontag – Debriefing LP front cover
Susan Sontag – Debriefing LP back cover
Susan Sontag – Debriefing LP side 1
Susan Sontag, 1975

On this disc, American writer Susan Sontag, 1933-2004, reads excerpts from Debriefing, written in 1973, a text from her unique collection of short stories titled I, etcetera, published 1978. It was recorded in 1979 and released on LP by TANAM Press, a New York publisher of radical, theoretical and activist writings of the 1980s, including cult Korean author Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.

For a long time better known for her essays, Sontag’s short stories are currently being reassessed by literary critics and at least her short stories can be viewed as a documentary on Chelsea’s bohemian life. The following passage from Debriefing (quoted by someone else on the web) is representative of the writing style:

All around us, as far as I can see, people are striving to be ordinary. This takes a great deal of effort. Ordinariness, generally considered to be safer, has gotten much rarer than it used to be.

Julia called yesterday to report that, an hour before, she had gone downstairs to take in her laundry. I congratulated her. People try to be interested in the surface. Men without guns are wearing mascara, glittering, prancing. Everyone’s in some kind of moral drag.

Interesting cover artwork by uncredited artist.

[Thanks to Goran for this LP]

01 Side 1 (17:35)
02 Side 2 (19:15)

Total time 36:50
LP released by TANAM Press, New York, NY, 1979


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Vladan Radovanović – Voice From The Loudspeaker

Voice From The Loudspeaker 7inch front cover
Voice From The Loudspeaker 7inch back cover
Voice From The Loudspeaker 7inch folder
Voice From The Loudspeaker 7inch A strana

Serbian composer, visual artist and theoretician Vladan Radovanović (b. Belgrade, 1932), is a Yugoslavian electronic music pioneer who established former Yugoslavia’s first electroacoustic music studio, the Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio in 1972 – see English bio here. During the 1970s, Radovanović turned to sound poetry and readings of conceptual texts a la Lawrence Weiner. He appeared on various sound poetry compilations listed in the discography below. Developed in a book of the same name in 1987, Radovanović’s Vokovizuel concept encompasses his activities as a sound and visual poet – of which some examples are included in this essay in Serb. In 2010, he published a study on electronic music titled Muzika i Elektroakustička Muzika, published by Izdavačka knjižarnica Zorana Stojanovića, Novi Sad, Serbia.

глaс из динамика, or Glas iz zvučnika, or Voice From The Loudspeaker, was premiered at Belgrade’s Student Cultural Center in 1975. The Studentski kulturni centar, or SKC, was the most important venue for the Serbian capital’s avantgarde artists – there was a retrospective exhibition on the Student Cultural Center with a PDF of the catalog hereVoice From The Loudspeaker is a conceptual text about the recorded voice, the magnetic tape medium and the loudspeaker’s reproduction of the recording. In its use of self-referential speech, it is somewhat comparable to Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room, save for the sound treatment. The English version was translated and read by Australian-born saxophonist Paul Pignon, who lived in Yugoslavia at the time and collaborated with contemporary music composers.

[Thanks to Goran for this one]

Voice From The Loudspeaker
01 Serbo-Croatian version, read by V. Radovanović  (4:46)
02 English version, read by Paul Pignon (4:21)

Total time 9:07

7in single released by PGP RTB, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1975


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Vladan Radovanovic discography (tbc):
1975 Voice From The Loudspeaker, 7” single, PGP RTB, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
1977 Becoming Distinct/Indistinct, cassette, published by Guy Schraenen, Antwerpen, Belgium
1977 “Electra”, incl. in Elektronski Studio Radio Beograda, LP, PGP RTB, ref. 2513, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
1978 Vladan Radovanović, LP, PGP RTB, ref. 2550, 1978, Belgrade
1982 “Recorded”, incl. in Voooxing-Poooetre, published by Enzo Minarelli, Bondeno, Italy
1988 “Cut”, incl. in Slowscan vol. 8, cassette, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

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Pierre Vasseur – D’ailleurs

Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP box set
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP box set spread
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP front cover
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP back cover
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP side 1

Pierre Vasseur, 1987After graduating as an engineer, French composer Pierre Vasseur (pictured right) studied electroacoustic music with Pierre Schaeffer and Guy Reibel at Paris’ C.N.S.M. and later, in the early 1980s, researched computer music at G.R.M. In 1985, Vasseur launched his own label, titled Free Way Musique, to release his own works, starting with his electroacoustic opera La Loira (see discography below). This piece was re-staged in 2006 during one of INA-GRM’s concert series. After 1985, Vasseur became a full-time stage music composer, working principally for theater and plays by William Shakespeare, Valère Novarina or Mauricio Kagel’s Le Tribun. Living in Lille, in Northern France, Vasseur still composes stage music today. In 1999, he was commissioned a piece for orchestra by fellow Northerners Art Zoyd, premiered by Orchestre National de Lille.

The electroacoustic-cum-music theater sound work D’Ailleurs – XV Champs Introspectifs, or Out There – 15 Introspective Songs/Fields (pun), was commissioned by the organizers of a psychiatry conference on disabled people and music – especially on the use of music in therapy, held in 1986 in Lille, in Northern France. It was apparently staged once prior to this disc version, by director Jacky Lautem. The LP comes in a special box-set including the booklet of the conference’s proceedings. D’Ailleurs… is based on schizophrenics’ writings collected by psychiatrist Jean Enottacce, excerpted from his book L’Absurde et Le Néant. I’m reminded of one of these psychic paradoxes in Ronald D. Laing’s anti-psychiatric books of the 1960s-70s, like The Divided Self or Knots. The text is largely based on puns, some recurring several times as a dotted line, like the following alliteration on vowel sounds (end of tr.#5):

Sombre ombre d’homme en trombe dans sa tombe sobre
[Dark shadow of a man rushing to his sober tomb]

♫ Two actors conduct the reading, Cyril Robichez and Anne Gilbert, but D’Ailleurs… also includes recordings of patients in various mental hospitals of Northern France (Lille, Roubaix, Tourcoing), and the collaboration of professional actors for background vocals.  Two brooding electronic drones frame D’Ailleurs…, perhaps signaling the entry into another world. The introductory electronic track is titled Champ II not I because, apparently, the reading, or Lecture, of the text without music is implicitly Champ I. The main reader is actor Cyril Robichez, whose deep, monotone voice envelopes the listener. Young actress Anne Gilbert’s interventions are shorter and her playful, gay voice is used as a conterpoint to Robichez’s morose readings. Varied sound treatments are applied to the voices, including spatiallization, ring-modulation, echo, etc, and D’Ailleurs… is hence a little theater of voices. The other people heard more briefly are patients, actors, singers and passers-by recorded in the street. Electronic and musique concrète sounds create a dreamy, otherworldly atmopshere, perhaps suggestive of some mental disorder. In any case, the solo electric guitar on track #09 Champ X comes as a surprise. To sum things up, I’d say this disc is mind-blowing if you understand French, just amazing if you don’t.

D’ailleurs – XV Champs Introspectifs
01 Champ II (3:45)
02 Champ III (:38)
03 Champ IV (3:30)
04 Champ V (2:50)
05 Champ VI (5:06)
06 Champ VII (3:20)
07 Champ VIII (2:46)
08 Champ IX (3:10)
09 Champ X (3:02)
10 Champ XI (3:46)
11 Champ XII, XIII (4:03)
12 Champ XIV, XV (6:50)

Anne Gilbert, Cyril Robichez, voices
Pierre Vasseur, electronic, composition
Jacky Lautem, dramaturgy

Total time 42:46
LP released by Free Way Musique, ref. 868700, France, 1987


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Pierre Vasseur discography:
1985 La Loira (Extraits)/Lacertae/Transparences, LP, Free Way Musique
1987 D’ailleurs – XV champs introspectifs, LP, Free Way Musique
1993 Le sens caché/Purple frame/Lacertae, CD, Free Way Musique

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